If there is any one thing Nigeria shares in common with the league of well-meaning nations at this material time, it is that she will also be crossing over to 2018. Be that as it may, like many of these nations, many events of intrigues and national relevance cropped up in her socio-political and economic milieu, enough to deserve a historical overview of the year 2017 under the leadership of His Excellency, President Muhammed Buhari. This undertaking might probably not be of enormous advantages. It will however, at the very least, add to the number of things shared with these developed nations.
Meanwhile, as Nigerians merry with one another in this season of love, we must not lose sight of matters of paramount values that marked the year 2017. In the face of this whirligig, we must take cognizance of the measures, strategies, policies and mechanisms employed by this administration to make life easy and sustainable for every Nigerian. We must in the same fashion, critically determine the efficacy of these measures. These tedious tasks are to the end of the determining, in all honesty and objectivity, whether this two-year -old administration should be awarded excellent grades, or should fall into the same category like our brothers and sisters in Kaduna State who passed woefully the test organized by the Kaduna State Government. In order to deftly discharge this task, it is fundamental that we embark on a critical appraisal of the year 2017.
To set the ball rolling is the fight, or better still, the war against corruption. The fight against corruption formed a cardinal point of the All Progressives Party (APC)’s electioneering campaign.
In view of the many cases reported and those prosecuted, the unscrupulous dealings and corrupt practices uncovered by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the myriads of ongoing investigations into other administrative malfeasances and rackets, one would be tempted to hastily score this administration very high in this regard. This is reinforced by evident examples ranging from the prosecution of eminent and high level appointees like the ‘DasukiGate’, the trial of the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison Madueke, the case of the former National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ,Olisa Metuh, the arrest of Pius Anyim for allegedly receiving #520 million from Dasuki, to the case of the immediate past Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayodele Oke and his dutiful wife over 13 billion Naira Ikoyi Cash ad nauseam. Another factor that will most likely inform our decision is the implementation of the Whistle blower Policy which has recorded unequalled successes as accentuated by the mind-boggling amount of looted funds discovered, thanks to those who had the whistles and used it.
Nevertheless, despite the unprecedented milestone achieved by this administration, it is not without its failings; failings enough to force us to have a change of mind and likely score this administration low on its anti-graft war. Without mincing words,juxtaposing both sides, it appears the negatives notoriously outweigh the positives. Notable among these pitfalls is the fact that most of the earlier cases highlighted seem to have been dumped in the judicial waste bin of inconclusiveness. What is the latest on the highlighted cases? Has justice been served, not to talk of being seen to have been served? What is the update on those governors reportedly fingered by the EFCC to have diverted into private purses the London-Paris Club refund? These revealing and instructive questions are left unanswered and seem likely to cross over with us into 2018 .
In the same connection, another twin failing in this respect is the apparent indulgence and seeming protection of some corrupt appointees from being gripped by the long arm of the law by the Presidency. This perilous phenomenon is better appreciated against the backdrop of the Mainagate Scandal. The gist of this administrative conundrum is that Abdulrasheed Maina, the embattled former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension who was accused of pilfering pension funds in 2013 was illegally reinstated with the complicity of some eminent members of this administration, yet no one has been held responsible for such an ignoble act. This is in an administration whose public posture is meant to semiotically reveal its strong aversion to corruption. The incubus got to an ugly head when the head of the Civil Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita literally cried out that she informed Mr President of the furtive moves by some to commit that grave crime against the nation, but Mr President allegedly turned deaf ears to her. Perhaps, it was not music to his ears. Next time, Oyo-Ita should sing and not cry. The hesitation of Mr President in sacking Babachir Lawal after having been indicted by the investigating committee headed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibajo further reinforces the impression that the sanctifying sabre gets sheathed when pointed at any member of his inner circle.
Similarly, another lingering national incubus of 2017 is the fight against insurgency. If there was anything the Jonathan administration bequeathed to this administration, it unarguably was be the horror of insurgency. This explains why one of the campaign promises of this administration was to root out the insurgents from our landscape. The President was reported according to the Daily Trust of November 27, 2017 to have proclaimed that ‘Boko Haram’s attacks on soft targets, last kicks of a dying horse’ .We should also not forget that it is the contention of this administration that the sect has been technically defeated. If one were to be honest, one would agree that the successes recorded in this war are unprecedented. Nevertheless, recent developments tend to belie those declarations in view of the resurgence of insurgence as wholly typified by the recent attacks on the 233 Battalion at the Sassawa Military Base in Damaturu, Yobe State. The apparent activeness of the sect was further attested to by the request of the federal government to withdraw 1 billion Dollar from the Excess Crude Account with a view to efficiently and expeditiously prosecuting the war against insurgency. The government should please speak to us in the language we understand and explain why it needs 1 billion Dollar to fight a war it claimed to have technically won?
Furthermore, there was a national impasse which threatened and is still threatening the corporate existence of our country . The Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) ‘s agitation for self-determination under the mosaic leadership of Nnamdi Kanu reached the sky and brought down hell in the form of ‘Operation Python Dance 2’ and its accompanying national chaos and skirmish arising from the incessant confrontations between the military and the agitators. The arrest of Nnamdi Kanu and the subsequent disobedience to court order granting him bail precipitated the opening of the Pandora box. This whole rigmarole culminated into the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian Military. The salient question is whether this apparent show of strength is the appropriate panacea to addressing the claims of marginalisation by a segment of the federation?
One would think that the abolition of Transatlantic Slave Trade sounded the death knell on slavery. However, anyone with such humane thought would have been correct until the recent discovery of the 21st century slave trade which found a booming market in Libya, where some of our countrymen, in their determined quest to leave behind this ‘Hell on Earth ‘ geographical eyesore called Nigeria,seeking greener pastures abroad were trapped in Libya and made to experience the most horrific and desolate part of their days on earth. Myriad of sad testimonies from these returnees fly around like missiles. The government has repatriated over 200 of these returnees.
There are however divergent views trailing this unfortunate development and despicable act of cruelty. Some pitch blame on the returnees for their ‘impatience ‘ and ‘lack of faith’ in the country. Some on the other camp argue that the government is wholly responsible for making life unbearable for its citizenry that they had to seek safe haven elsewhere,consequently, subjecting them to this execrable misfortune. It bears restating, that a country which the government, knowingly, out of sheer ineptitude and its refusal to live up to her responsibilities forfend itself from being capable to provide its citizens with basic amenities, Or in the worst scenario, minimal comfort ,is liable to experience mass emigration of various forms. With the perpetual economic woes and leadership ineptitude of our nation, it is with the grace of providence that we all are not en route to find our greener pastures. We must not forget that some months ago, it was reported that not less than 26 Nigerian women lost their lives on a Spanish boat in the Mediterranean Sea. Hopefully, the government will take pragmatic steps to ensure that the returnees overcome their emotional injuries and psychological trauma occasioned by their gruesome experience in Libya. Hopefully, this administration will do everything to assuage their predicaments, grant them the necessary repose they are in need of. Until these become a reality, the returnees might find it extremely difficult to be normal and adjust to this country which is responsible in the first place for asphyxiating their nascent dreams.
It is at this juncture that my weary pen will have to go into dormancy . This is to prevent me from inadvertently stabbing someone in this struggle to purchase fuel. Oh, I did not tell you I have been writing while standing in line for fuel that is not even available? Forgive me, but like every other festive period in the past, I am on a rat-race to get fuel. I doubt the wind of change got to this part. However, the government already informed us about some marketers hoarding this fuel and that it will fine anyone caught engaging in this irregularity. While waiting for the government to effectuate its promises on this fuel scarcity, we are here fraternising with our cars.
We, as a group of percipient people , must however resolve to remain calm, cheerful and jocund even in the face of our disenchanting state. We must remain happy and bring into fruition, the dreams of our inimitable and loving Governor of Imo State, who in his wisdom and constant Happy state created for us ,the Ministry of Happiness and Fulfilment . One can never tell, one might have one’s statue as the face of Imo State if one proves to be the most happy and fulfilled individual in the face of the terror unleashed on us by our sensitive leaders. If worse comes to worst, even if one refuses to stay happy and ends up losing one’s life, one might be compensated with a posthumous appointment to steer the affairs of this country. This is the unusual magnanimity of the Buhari – led administration.
I need to leave now, they have agreed to sell fuel for us at 350 naira per litre.
Yusuf Oluwafemi Salako.